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Powerchair Football powerhouse

382. Cath McNicol

A Middlesbrough woman who has been the driving force behind Middlesbrough’s Powerchair Football Club for the last three years.

Cath McNicol, 40, took on the organisation of the Powerchair Football Club four years ago. Diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a neuromuscular condition affecting use of all her muscles, she became involved with Powerchair Football in 2008. The sport, governed by the Wheelchair Football Association (WFA), where two teams of four players use powerchairs equipped with footguards to attack, defend, and spin-kick a football to score goals.

Cath set up the Middlesbrough Powerchair Football Club in 2011, and now boasts two teams in the WFA National League, one in the North East regional league and one that plays locally. Over the last three years, Cath has secured funds of more than £50,000 – and continues to fundraise – to secure the equipment needed for the sport- including the expensive powerchairs required for players at the club. She has organised various fundraising activities and playing opportunities including the recent Middlesbrough Shield; an invitational powerchair football tournament and ‘Boro on Tour’ where six players, who all needed accessible transport and accommodation, went on a week long team building trip to play other powerchair football teams in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

As well as undertaking most of the back office tasks relating to the club, Cath- along with a team of other players, parents and carers- is very hands on, running 4 training sessions every week for 40 players. She sits on the WFA executive committee as player representative and is also part of “Trailblazers”- a national network of more than 400 young disabled people who work together on a national and local level to highlight and address the issues that are important to them, fighting social injustices and ensuring they have access to the education, employment and services they require.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“By setting up Middlesbrough Powerchair Football Club, Cath has enabled dozens of other people to enjoy the sport that she loves. As well as leading the team in Middlesbrough to organise training sessions and matches, and raise money for the club, Cath also plays an important role on the national Wheelchair Football Association committee as player representative. I am delighted to recognise Cath’s service by making her the UK’s 382nd Point of Light.”

Local MP, Tom Blenkinsop, said:

“Cath truly deserves this award and I am so pleased that the hard work she has put in to make this organisation a success has been recognised. The few games I have managed to attend have been exhilarating affairs so I hope Cath continues her excellent work and the sport grows in popularity not just on Teesside but across the UK.”

Cath said:

“I am really honoured to receive this award and to be recognised by the Prime Minister. This award isn’t just for me, but for all the wonderful people who I have worked with over the last three years: from all of the players who have helped coach sessions to those who have donated to us and helped us fundraise. I just wanted other disabled people to experience playing football; the beautiful game”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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